|Plant breeding and discovery is an art, science and talent. It can be achieved through many and varied techniques ranging from simply selecting seedling plants with desirable characteristics, discoveries of a mutation or variegation to more complex breeding practices and genetic engineering. Breeding of new plants requires much time, effort, planning and know-how. Not all new plants are successful in the marketplace. However, when success is achieved the benefits for everyone down the line are not only profitable but a chance to stand out from the crowd.|
I feel that both Australian and other international industries in general undervalue the enormous amount of pride, dedication, intelligence and forward thinking our Australian breeders capture in their breeding programmes.
Australia is one of the luckiest countries in the world having access to one of the greatest gene pools and genetics. This, combined with a climate and demographic that provides not only a huge diverse range of Genus to work with but in some cases allows quicker breeding results than many other countries around the world. Australian breeders are recognised as some of the best in the field and royalty incomes have been flowing for many breeders with many plants being firmly established as bread and butter varieties around the globe for years.
If we as an industry under-value this unique opportunity given to us how is the consumer going to really value and appreciate what is behind that new release plants in their local Garden Centre and retailer. We all need to understand the process and what goes into a new plant variety before we can truly appreciate what dedication is needed to achieve such varieties. This will therefore be the tool that is needed to raise the profile of not only the new release plants but the necessity of our breeding fraternity. Our industry as a whole needs to utilize this opportunity to show off just how unique, sophisticated and intelligent we really are, thus raising the profile for all of us.
How do we achieve this?|
As an industry we can all benefit from the enormous dedication our plant breeders give to developing new varieties. The ultimate return is commanding higher prices for such new varieties. I see a real opportunity for wholesalers and retailers and, in turn, breeders to demand premium prices for new plants as they are launched onto the market. Raising prices is always a sensitive subject for any industry but particularly for horticulture. However, we repeatedly undervalue ourselves and the research and development of new plant varieties. This must be appreciated and then valued by us before the consumers will truly appreciate our own plant inventors. I see new plant varieties as the perfect tool to raise the bar on prices. That said, we all must be on the same page to make this happen.
Once we all have an appreciation of what’s behind the breeding process, and just how long it can take to develop a new variety, it’s only then that royalties which are added to these varieties or what could also be known as ‘new plant inventions’, can be understood and recognised as an absolute essential ingredient to further enhance and develop this side of our industry. We need to look at royalties as the inventor’s back-pay for years of dedication and an encouragement to further develop new varieties long into the future so we can all benefit from their fruits of labour.
Most breeders are passionate plant people with a fantastic outlook on life and our industry. They work, breathe and live it to the maximum. It’s the ultimate addictive natural drug and high that they can’t get a de-tox programme or remedy for. They’re a unique part of a larger wheel but really they’re more than that, they’re the life blood of what we as an industry have to offer, for not only our own domestic market but for the international markets and reputation.